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Unique Things To Do In South Dakota

Reptile Gardens Rapid City

Top 5 Things To do in South Dakota

Reptile Gardens is an attractive animal park located on the road to Mount Rushmore National Memorial. But, it is not just an animal park. Reptile Gardens is one of the largest reptile zoos in the world.

Opened in 1937, Reptile Gardens has been a family-friendly tourist attraction from the beginning. Therefore, it has won some international awards as well.

This award-winning zoo features snakes, prairie dogs, birds, tortoises, lizards, crocodiles, and many other animal species. Since most of these animals are friendly, even your kids can interact with them.

On the other hand, Reptile Gardens features an indoor and outdoor garden filled with beautiful flora. While visiting around gardens, you can catch some animal shows toofor example, crocodiles, birds, and dogs.

Theres a fun playground for children as well. So, surely bring your kids to Reptile Gardens to interact with animals and have a fun time.

Address: 8955 US-16, Rapid City, SD 57702, United States Phone: +1 800-335-0275

Things to do in South Dakota

Explore The Local Beer Scene

Source: dtsf.com

Stop by WoodGrain Brewing Company for some high-quality craft beer, created using locally sourced ingredients, including hops, barley and unique strains of yeast.

Try the beer, but also be sure to check their calendar, for fun options like live music and brewery yoga classes, as well as barbecue fests.

The normal menu is definitely nothing to turn your nose up at, though.

They have several unique varieties of pizzas and yummy appetizers like pot roast sliders.

All the food, though, is provided from a separate company, Tuesday-Friday.

Food trucks show up on Fridays and Saturdays, and they also encourage you to bring in your own food to eat while you sip away.

Learn About The Lakota

After seeing Dignity, head over to The Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center museum in downtown Chamberlain. The free, self-guided museum celebrates the Sioux nation and offers a fascinating glimpse into the Lakota culture. Youll be intrigued by their history, their ingenuity with farming and hunting, and their strong family values and sense of peace that survived through their historic, devastating struggles. Youll learn it all through art, artifacts and audio and visual displays that depict the proud heritage of the Lakota people. Also, save your souvenir money for this gift shop. It features a wonderful selection of unique and handmade items like jewelry, artwork, star quilts, books, baskets, pottery, prints and more.

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Attend The Sturgis Rally

COVID didnt keep these devoted party-goers down the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was very close to its usual number of visitors, even during a pandemic. Thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts gathered in Sturgis, South Dakota, for a ten-day celebration of riding, food, and music.

Sara and I didnt attend the rally, but we did see people making the trip for days before arriving and while we were in the national parks. Ive never participated in the motorcycle rally, but seeing how many bars, restaurants, campgrounds, tours, local businesses, and temporary vendors participate and make this event so special, brings a smile to my face. The Sturgis Rally runs like a well-oiled machine.

Check Out The Town Of Wall

13 Cool Things to Do Around Rapid City, South Dakota ...

Another place people kept urging me to visit was Wall, a well-known town in South Dakota that is like stepping back in time in the Old West, or that is the best I can describe it. It is easily one of the best things to do in South Dakota, or most recommended roadside attractions. The town of Wall was formed as a railroad station for the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. Eight hundred people call it home.

Sara and I parked amidst the thousands of cars and motorcycles , and visited several souvenir shops, the western art gallery at Wall Drug Store, and grabbed tacos from 3 Amigos Cantina. Wall Drug Store, the #1 town attraction, also offers a popular cafe featuring five-cent coffee and delicious, hot beef sandwiches.

Wall Drug Store offered free ice water to travelers back in the 30s, and has since grown into a beloved attraction. I honestly dont see what all the hype is about Wall, as it reminded me of any other cheesy western town, but we were glad to check it off our bucket list. It does make for fun photo-ops and is considered the window to the west.

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Go On A Ghost Tour In Deadwood

The gold rush of 1876 brought all kinds of people to Deadwood. Pioneers and prospectors came seeking their fortune, along with lawless, unsavory types who brought murder, mayhem, brothels and all sorts of Wild West shenanigans. Today, the town is a law-abiding hamlet, but much of its original 19th-century architecture still stands. Deadwood is the only U.S. town to be named a National Historic Landmark because of its well-preserved collection of pre-1900 buildings. But with old buildings, come old spirits. Deadwood is alive with stories of its dead residents haunting present-day hotels, saloons and the famous Mount Moriah Cemetery, the final resting place of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. There are several tour operators that will take you to the top haunts and tell you all the chilling tales and lore. Deadwood also has its share of wineries and breweries to enjoy after a spirited tour.

Drink Holy Terror Coffee

On my travels, I always like to visit a local coffee shop that leaves a lasting memory. Holy Terror Coffee was the South Dakota offering for me. This stylish and whimsical coffee in Keystone, SD, offers tasty pastries, fudge , warm, packaged nuts, and very fun souvenirs. But, they also had really cool coffee creations that left a good taste in my mouth. I loved the iced mocha frappe.

Holy Terror Coffee is closed for the season, but will reopen Mothers Day weekend through Labor Day.

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Day 2 Get In Touch With The Locals

Your second day in Sioux Falls is all about getting out and seeing what the locals like to get up to.

Youll start your day by heading to the Wild Water West Waterworld. One could literally spend the entire day here if they could, but we think a morning would suffice. More than enough time to explore its many attractions!


After enjoying lunch inside the park, take a short walk to the nearby Washington Pavilion for a wander around its theatres and galleries. The Pavilion is known for its cultural and public exhibits and is also a great spot to relax.

For late afternoon, how better to finish your day than to explore the famous Butterfly House and Aquarium. With the sun setting, you can finish your day touching sharks and admiring over 800 butterflies!

Sturgis Motorcycle Museum And Hall Of Fame

Top 6 Things to do near Mount Rushmore | Black Hills | Custer State Park | South Dakota RV Travel

Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame

This incredible South Dakota museum preserves and shares the history of motorcycles and important contributors to the industry.

Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame pay homage to motorcycles as a sport, lifestyle, and heritage.

Through the preservation of historical artifacts and educational workshops, the museum shows great respect to a sometimes misunderstood sport and lifestyle.

During your visit to the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame, you will hear and see the stories of honored industry leaders.

Additionally, youll have the opportunity to engage with interactive displays, hang in the visitors lounge where famous motorcycle movies play throughout the day, and explore a prized collection of motorcycles and related antiques.

Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame is a wonderful place for motorcycle enthusiasts to see when visiting South Dakota.

Address: 999 Main St, Sturgis, SD 57785, United States

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Sertoma Butterfly House And Marine Cove

The Sertoma Butterfly House in Sioux Falls is home to hundreds of free-flying butterflies from all over the world. While the butterflies are the true highlight, Sertoma also has a Marine Cove that is also home to a variety of .

Popular exhibits and activities at the Butterfly House include the Pacific Tide Pool and Shark & Stingray Touch Pool, and the 3,600-square-foot indoor tropical garden that hosts the butterflies. Visitors are also encouraged to check out weekly classes and events at the Sertoma Butterfly House, including yoga, meditation, and tai-chi in the garden.

Address: 4320 Oxbow Avenue, Sioux Falls

Mount Rushmore National Monument

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Youve likely seen pictures of these majestic stone sculptures, but pictures pale in comparison to the real thing.

As youll likely recall from your history lessons, Mount Rushmore consists of four stone carvings made in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The monument depicts the images of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

Notably, each image represents the history of our country from its birth, growth, development, and preservation.

One of the most famous places in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore National Monument brings visitors face to face with our rich history.

Weather permitting, the monument is open every day of the year.

In addition to your visit to Mount Rushmore National Monument, the grounds house an information center, visitor center, cafe, and souvenir shop.

This American landmark is one of South Dakotas top tourist attractions.

Its no wonder the states official nickname is The Mount Rushmore State.

Be sure to include it on your itinerary to South Dakota.

Address: 13000 SD-244, Keystone, SD 57751, United States

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South Dakota Points Of Interest: Dinosaur Park

Dinosaur Park is a free attraction on a hill overlooking Rapid City, South Dakota, which features five dinosaur sculptures made in the 1930s from black iron pipe, with wire mesh frames and concrete skin, all painted bright green with white undersides. The dinosaurs are a period piece and represent what people of the time thought dinosaurs looked like.

There is an apatosaurus, a Tyrannosaurus rex, a triceratops, a stegosaurus, and an edmontosaurus. The park is family friendly and children love climbing on the dinosaurs adults come for the dazzling view of Rapid City and the Black Hills. The park is reached by climbing steep flagstone steps and is not wheelchair accessible.

940 Skyline Drive, Rapid City, SD 57701, Phone: 605-343-8687

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Corn Palace At Mitchell

13 Cool Things to Do Around Rapid City, South Dakota ...

Famously advertised as the Worlds Only Corn Palace, the Mitchell Corn Palace is a truly unique roadside attraction and one of South Dakota famous landmarks in eastern South Dakota.

The Corn Palace is located about an hour drive west from Sioux Falls along I-90.

The building is built in Moorish Revival style of architecture. Its exterior is completely covered with beautiful corn crop art, corn designs, and corn murals.

The theme and murals change every year. Several different varieties and colors of corn are used to complete the Corn Palace.

The inside of the corn palace has a small museum dedicated to murals completed in corn, photos of previous years Corn Palace, and exhibits detailing the history of corn farming in the state.

Best part about this unique roadside attraction? The Corn Palace is completely free to visit!

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Things To Do In South Dakota: Spearfish Canyon Waterfalls

Spearfish Canyon Waterfalls is a stunning combination of three waterfalls in Savoy, South Dakota. They are Spearfish Falls, Roughlock Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.

Whether you visit in the summer, fall, or autumn, these waterfalls contain water and offer you breathtaking views. Therefore, this is one of the top attractions in South Dakota among hikers.

Hiking to these three wonderful waterfalls will be your most memorable experience in South Dakota.

The most easily accessible waterfall is Bridal Veil Falls. So, if you are with kids, this is the ideal hike for you.

But, if you are into more adventurous things and wanting to explore nature, you should try Spearfish Falls and Roughlock Falls.

Thats why Spearfish Canyon Waterfalls are considered one of the gorgeous natural attractions in the state. So, dont miss it.

Address: Spearfish Canyon Waterfalls, Savoy, SD 57754, United States.

Things to do in South Dakota

Where To Stay: Rapid City Vs Custer

While this post uses Rapid City as a base for its exploration, you can just as easily use Custer. In fact, we used both. So depending on how many days you have and what exactly you want to see, you can choose between the two. Or use both as we did.

Custer has your standard but reasonably priced and comfy Comfort Inn to stay at. The same level of comfort was found at the Rapid City Hampton Inn. You cant beat convenience, cleanliness, and reasonable prices, which they both offered.

The Comfort Inn in Custer even accommodated ALL the guests with an extra early breakfast for the Buffalo Round-Up.

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Stop #: Waterfalls & Sculptures In Sioux Falls

At last, we finally made it to Sioux Falls on the far east side of the state and checked into the Clubhouse Hotel & Suites, which was a complete oasis after such a long day of travel. There was an indoor pool , a smores fire pit, a breakfast buffet and free bike rentals!

The ClubHouse Hotel is only a few minutes by car from downtown Sioux Falls, including Falls Park and the Sioux Falls Sculpture Walk. You can park once and enjoy both, though youll need to be ready for a 2-3 mile round trip walk.

There are more than 50 sculptures in downtown Sioux Falls, mostly along Phillips Avenue in the heart of downtown. Heres a to bring along with you. I parked on 13th Street, checked out all the sculptures, and at the end found myself at the Big Sioux River and Falls Park.

There are a lot of things to do in Sioux Falls, so while in town we also got a chance to visit the Great Plains Zoo. Its a small zoo, but it was a great way to spend the morning. They have giraffe feedings, zookeeper chats and animal encounters. Thats pretty great for a relatively small animal park.

I hope this helps if youre thinking about South Dakota for a family road trip. If youre looking for even more things to do in the Black Hills, do check out We3Travel for what else to see and do in the Mount Rushmore State.

Explore One Of The Most Decorated Ship In Us Navy History

Custer State Park | South Dakota | Things to Do

Jacob Boomsma

During WWII, the U.S.S. South Dakota Battleship was lead to a pod of South Dakota-class battleships. Launched in 1941, it was involved in over ten battles and is one of the most decorated war vessels ever in the US Navy.

After its decommissioning in 1947, the ship was broken up to be used for scrap metal. Today, you can find some of the ships parts at the South Dakota Battleship Memorial, in memory of its service.

Although landlocked in the midwest, youll be surprised at how well the memorial site conveys not only the physical size of the ship but also its sizable history!

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Visit Spearfishs Entertainment Center Back In The Day

The Matthews Opera House and Arts Center is a popular art and historical destination in Spearfish that was recently restored to restore its timeless beauty.

It is located on Main Street in downtown Spearfish and is the citys top movie theater and shooting gallery.

It is also considered a cultural gem in Spearfish for its relevance to the citys entertainment, history, and culture.

For over a hundred years, the Matthews Opera House has been a bear witness to countless performers who graced its stage.

Today, the Matthews continue to provide historical and cultural connections to both locals and tourists in Spearfish.

Explore All Types Of Nature At Badlands National Park

Millions of years of wind and water erosion gave Badlands National Park its outer-space-looking features. Explore the 244,000 acres of unique, rugged and varied geologic formations, everything from buttes, canyons, pinnacles, spires and prairie grassland. Youre also likely to see a wide range of animals, like bison, prairie dogs, coyotes, eagles and hawks. Enjoy the truly dark sky of this wilderness by joining a ranger-led Night Sky Program for stargazing. Accommodations are available in the park at Cedar Pass Lodge and Cedar Pass Campground.

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Art Alleya Popular Thing To Do In Rapid City

Wander off the main drag of town to immerse yourself in the artistic side of Rapid City. Nudged between 6th and 7th Streets, creative souls unleash their talents with strikingly colorful murals. The community provides incredible support for local artists to continually transform the art scene with their inspiring concepts.

A stroll down this narrow alleyway reveals spiritual and political expressions straight from the heart. Youll see lots of murals focused on the most challenging issues of the day that impact global communities. If youre lucky, you may come across the next resounding artists perfecting their craft along with the concrete canvas.

This is a cool thing that will only take a quick portion of your time in the city. It may not be the best graffiti street youve ever seen but a cool place to stroll nonetheless.

Now, the rest of the things to do in Rapid City are, in fact, not in Rapid City at all. There are more things in the city, but I think the best spots are just outside !

Its a well-located city, and if you have a patch of green with cool lakes, fun hikes, and other outdoorsy optionsIm leaving the city and going there! So everything from here on out is located just outside the city.

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